Chinese enterprises resort to employee-sharing to advance work resumption amid COVID-19

By You Yi, Wang Yongzhan, People’s Daily
Local governments in China are issuing measures and establishing platforms for enterprises to “share” employees in an effort to advance work resumption as the country grapples with COVID-19.
Yan Dongdong was one of the workers “shared” by two enterprises in Wuhu, east China’s Anhui province.
He is the director of the tourist center at Wuhu Fantawild Resort in charge of tourist reception, and transferred to an electronic product manufacturer in the city on March 10 by Wuhu municipal human resources and social security bureau, as the hospitality industry witnessed manpower surplus amid the pandemic while some other industries suffered extreme insufficiency of laborers.
A total of 144 employees of the resort joined the electronic product manufacturer – Delta Electronics, where every day they must work in a whole set of protective equipment, including antistatic wrist straps, gloves and boots.
“I have been sitting idle at home for over two months, so I signed up after learning the labor shortage of the company,” Yan introduced, adding that the work on the assembly line was a far cry from what he did before.
“It was a bit strange at the beginning. But the company provides accommodation, meals and professional training for us, so all of the newbies eventually fitted in,” Yan said.
As a matter of fact, these temporary workers from Wuhu Fantawild Resort did relieve Delta Electronics’ urgent demand for laborers.
“Most companies in the manufacturing sector were in labor shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a vacancy of more than 500 workers in March in our company,” Bian Chenchen, a human resources principal of the company noted. He told People’s Daily that the employee-sharing mechanism has not only increased employee’s income, but also reduced enterprises’ cost and relieved the labor pressure.
The Department of Human Resources and Social Security of Anhui Province recently issued a notice to address labor shortage through employee-sharing mechanism. It listed enterprises with labor shortage and surplus, and established platforms at both municipal and provincial levels to encourage enterprises to share employees with policy and capital incentives.
According to relevant policies, enterprises “exporting” labors will not have to pay their employees while the latter work for other companies. Besides, these enterprises will also enjoy subsidies.
Longquanyi district in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan Province adopted similar measures, offering rewards to companies participating in employee-sharing programs.
“We launched an official webpage for human resource sharing on WeChat,” said Duan Mingjun, an official with the human resources and social security bureau of the district.
The webpage enables enterprises to publish their demand for labor, as well as the employees’ intention of transfer, and the platform will timely match the two ends and help enterprises share employees, Duan introduced.
Authorities across China are now trying to make employee-sharing a lasting mechanism.
“The tourism and entertainment industries have high and low seasons. For instance, employees in these industries are in lower demand in winter when the number of tourists diminishes,” said Lu Zhaohai, an official with Wuhu municipal human resources and social security bureau.
“We are currently locating the low season of entertainment enterprises and the high season of manufacturing enterprises, in the hope of extending this mode in the future,” Lu added.
Hefei Economic and Technological Development Area in Anhui province is also working on a long-term pilot program of employee-sharing. By April 2, 1,770 workers had joined relevant program, accounting for 70 percent of the total shared employees in the city.
Employees should be shared by industries with co-relations so that they can get along with the new work in a faster speed, said Zheng Jing, deputy director of the human resources center of Hefei Economic and Technological Development Area.
According to Li Kungang, a professor at the Law School of Anhui University, preliminary results of employee-sharing have been made, but the new mode still needs to be improved.
He believes safety risks should also be taken into consideration apart from how the employees should be arranged and the salary problem.
He said it is totally possible for the new mode to shape up nicely if more institutional mechanisms are in place to guarantee employees’ career development and promotion.

Employees work at a workshop of a wool textile enterprise in Hongze district, east China’s Jiangsu province, March 15, 2020. Photo by Chen Liang, People’s Daily Online

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